My Town – Manchester by John Meehan

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Located in the north west of England, Manchester was founded by Romans around 79 AD and is famed as the first industrial city in the world. The city was built on the textile boom after 1800. The city underwent a huge regeneration in the 1960s and again after the IRA’s largest ever bomb on British soil was detonated in the city centre on June 15th 1996.

Today’s Manchester has a population of 515,000, is the third most visited UK city after London and Edinburgh, and is home to the largest city centre shopping mall in the UK (The Arndale Centre). The city’s 169m Beetham Tower is the UK’s tallest building outside of London.

It has been said of the city…

For Manchester is the place where people do things…. ‘Don’t talk about what you are going to do, do it.’ That is the Manchester habit. And in the past through the manifestation of this quality the word Manchester became a synonym for energy and freedom and the right to do and to think without shackles.” From “Hobson’s Choice” by Harold Brighouse, 1917.

This statement holds true today. Manchester is still widely viewed as the ‘Northern powerhouse’, a well-run city with an independent spirit.

For this project I largely confined myself to the city’s Northern Quarter. The NQ designation is a retro-fitted brand developed in the mid-1990s. It refers to an area on the edge of the city centre adjacent to my birthplace of Ancoats. The latter is a mix of 19th century industrial mills and revamped 1960s housing developments. It is famed for its Italian and Irish communities and, latterly, a growing Vietnamese one too.

The NQ is essentially the bohemian area of the city. Think Greenwich Village with a good deal more grit. Grittiness and sarcasm being well known Manchester traits.

Manchester Town Hall, designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse and was completed in 1877. The Great Hall is decorated with murals by Ford Madox Brown depicting the history of the city.
Manchester Town Hall, designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse and completed in 1877. The Great Hall is decorated with murals by Ford Madox Brown depicting the history of the city.
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Deansgate. City Centre Manchester.
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Redhill St, Little Italy area of Ancoats.
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Rosa, classic rock fan. City centre Manchester.
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Murray’s Mills, Ancoats. Begun in 1797 beside the Rochdale canal, by 1806 it was the largest industrial spinning operation in the world. Expansion continued until 1842. It declined in the 1950s. The Mills were restored in 2004-6 by Urban Splash.
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Oak Street, Northern Quarter. The tall modern building on the left of the b+w image is the Beetham Tower referred to in the text above.
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Oldham Street, Northern Quarter. This street is the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
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Dantzic Street, Northern Quarter.
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St Peter’s Square, City centre Manchester.
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Oldham Street, Northern Quarter.
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Spring gardens, city centre Manchester.

5 Replies to “My Town – Manchester by John Meehan”

  1. I’ve been waiting for this. And I’ve not been disappointed. The wait was worth it. I love the “blue” picture of the cafe window in particular. It speaks to my style and it stands out. Great cover for a book.
    Very enjoyable though as a Brummie I could get into the perennial discussion of city status:-))


  2. Hi Bro, nice set of an area I grew up in with you but don’t recognise at all it’s been so long since I was there! Agree about the blue window image and the nod towards industrial change/nature with the swan image is nice (you knew I would like that one didn’t you?) If I’d known you were going to become this good a photographer I’d have seriously considered NOT letting you look through the 5×4 that time! 🙂


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